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COVID-19: Mysterious disease plagues

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NEW York may have as many as 93 cases of children presenting with a new pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome likely linked to COVID-19. At least three children have died, and two more deaths are under investigation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced.

Cuomo previously confirmed the deaths of two boys in New York City and Westchester County, as well as a teenager in Suffolk County. Details on the two most recent fatalities weren’t immediately available.

A complication of the coronavirus the state had not even acknowledged a week ago, this new condition is now being seen across the country and is striking newborns and teenagers alike.

“As it turns out, these children happened to have the COVID antibodies, or be positive for COVID, but those were not the symptoms they showed when they came into the hospital system,” Gov. Cuomo said Saturday.

 Help Develop National Criteria For Identifying Ansponding to Mystery Syndrome In Kids

The New York State Dept. of Health is working in partnership with the CDC to develop national criteria for the health departments and hospital systems in the 49 other states to help them identify, track and respond to help children exhibiting symptoms, Gov. Cuomo said. Doctors in the state say children are not presenting with symptoms until 4 to 6 weeks after exposure to the virus.

“This is every parent’s nightmare, right?” Cuomo said, adding that the state is investigating additional child deaths and will conduct further studies to better understand the illness.

A 5-year-old boy died in New York City Thursday, the first child identified by the state to die from inflammatory syndrome brought on by COVID-19 complications.

New York City confirmed the syndrome’s presence in at least 38 children over the weekend. On Monday, Dept. of Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said an additional 12 cases were under investigation and would be reportable in the coming days.

“If [your child has] a fever, their energy level is off, their appetite is off, they’re developing a rash, their lips look extra red, their tongue is looking extra red, those I think are the early signs that we want parents not to discount them and say ‘oh they’ll be better tomorrow’ but to reach out to your pediatrician, have that conversation and then do the testing if your pediatrician thinks its indicated,” Dr. Barbot advised.

The sickness can be identified by fever, and more than half reported having rashes, abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea. While it has been considered a direct symptom of COVID-19, less than half of the pediatric patients in the city displayed any shortness of breath.

Any child that shows symptoms relating to Kawasaki disease or toxic shock syndrome should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible, as the health department said early recognition and a pediatrician’s referral to a specialist are essential, including admission to critical care units if necessary. Beginning treatment quickly can help prevent end-organ damage and other long-term problems, Demetre Daskalakis, the Deputy Commissioner of Disease Control with the New York City Health Department, said in the city’s medical alert.

Dr. Newburger suggests that any parent who finds their child to have a high fever and “seems unwell” should call their pediatrician and seek medical attention.

Mount Sinai Hospital previously confirmed reports by NBC New York that they are seeing the new and unusual COVID-19 related illness in several pediatric patients, up from just two on April 28. The hospital’s chief of pediatric critical care issued a warning to parents to be on the lookout for certain symptoms.

In a statement, Dr. George Ofori, Pediatric Critical Care Director at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital said, “Some of the cases that we are currently treating entered our care presenting with symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and a low-grade fever. Others presented first with a rash, conjunctivitis, and/or cracked lips.”

Dr. Ofori said some patients have developed heart problems and low blood pressure that led to shock. He explained that some had been diagnosed with COVID-19 2-3 weeks before these symptoms developed.

“Whether the underlying condition is COVID-19 or the body’s response to COVID-19 is not known at this time. While it is too early to definitively say what is causing this we believe it is important to alert the public as to what we are seeing,” he said.

A different source told NBC New York some of these children had no previous underlying health conditions. 

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